I started a new job working in a retail store. The employee handbook has several official rules and policy which are clearly not enforced. For example

  1. no dogs in the store
  2. no cellphones at work
  3. always maintain two meters of distance with coworker
  4. we are supposed to ID customers for their age but I noticed coworkers never do this

Can all of a sudden management start enforcing or disciplining (including terminating) people for infringements?

  • I removed the second half of the question. Ask it as a separate question. Mar 15, 2021 at 9:13
  • Since you're asking here rather than Workplace, I assume you just want the legal answer rather than any advice on how you should deal with this? Mar 15, 2021 at 11:47
  • @Studoku yes that's correct
    – abc555
    Mar 19, 2021 at 11:49

1 Answer 1


Yes, but ...

An employee must follow the lawful and reasonable requests of the employer and failure to do so is grounds for disciplinary action.

All of your examples are lawful and, on the face of it, reasonable. However, if the culture and practice is such that they are normally not followed, suddenly requiring strict adherence without prior notice might be unreasonable.

Also, an employer cannot use the rules to persecute particular employees or groups of employees. If the rule is not applied uniformly, then that begins to look like discrimination.

  • Does Canada not have employment at will?
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 16, 2021 at 2:09
  • 2
    @ohwilleke no, "employment at will" is a sign of not being an advanced economy
    – Dale M
    Mar 16, 2021 at 2:13
  • 2
    Alas, why can't Americans have nice things? Oh yeah, because we're idiots and vote for people that Canadians don't to hold public offices.
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 16, 2021 at 2:21

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